Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 02, 2008
HOTEL METROPOLE & VILLE
Sunday Afternoon July 14, 1912
My Dear Mother,
We got into Napoli last evening at about seven. The approach was perfectly lovely, clear and warm
with hardly a cloud in the sky. All before us the islands and Capri and Sorrento and then Naples with
vast views beyond lovely it was too, but the prettiest thing of all was the color of the water just
before we entered the bay, the clearest blue imaginable. It took quite a long while to land and then
we had to go and pick out our baggage from an enormous mass and have it taken thru the customs house
for a cursory examination. But my, what bedlam! Dark and crowded and a few arc lights giving a spluttering
illumination only, and howling and crying and laughing and fighting and gesticulating officials, passengers,
soldiers, steerage and their welcoming friends, and that unmistakable odor so characteristic of sunny Italy.
Everything finally over we got up to the house which is well situated, and the rooms look out over the bay,
have little iron balconies. We sat out and talked and gave pennies to the men singing down below. They sang
wonderful Neopolitan serenades in wonderful voice. 'Santa Lucia' and all that.
After breakfast this morning of fruit and rolls and coffee I went out to Pompei, walked through the
ruins for two hours in the broiling sun, as hot as Hay Street ever dared to be. Went in the museum there
where is preserved lots of pottery etc. from the ruins, and several bodies just as found. A girl with a ring
on her finger, several men and then a dog all twisted up in his suffocation. Then thru the streets into the
forum, temples, two theatres, one large and one small and behind them a sort of colonnade used as gladiators
barracks, and a prison, unto several residences, some of which had useable baths and lead pipes, and one a
room with an old pane of glass thru which a dim light penetrated.
Then into the public baths or 'thermal' hot and cold and plunges and recesses in the walls for clothes
that dry, almost like lockers in our gymnasiums at home today. Past the house Bulwer wrote of. This one has
a dog in mosaic in the vestibule and the legend 'Cave Canem' that is, 'beware the dog'. Thru work kitchens
and a vegetable man's shop with things to eat painted all over his wagon.
In many of the residences an astonishingly large amount of Egyptian decoration. Most of the really beautiful
has been removed here to Naples to Muzeo Nationale where I shall go tomorrow. Then I had lunch at the foot the
place as it were, and came back here. I had a ride, walked around the town for awhile and then went down on
the Corso Vittorio Emanuele which is the fashionable boulevard, stretching along the water front. I'ts really
a park, and the boulevard is call Via Cassachione (?) Then I went in the Aquarium, not large but the finest
in the world. Such things as octopi and starfish and all sorts of the strangest water coral ever, and tanks
of coral in every shade and form, a flower garden almost.
Early tomorrow I shall take the boat for Capri, go to the Blue Grotto and probably get back here early
and then perhaps to Rome where I'll get mail on Tuesday. I'm very, very well as I trust you are. I have
seen enough of the place to give you any impressions, only it's not very attractive, dusty now, tho well
sprinkled and horribly dirty. Lots of beggars and poverty shows itself everywhere, tho everyone seems happy.
It is the largest city in Italy. I was surprised at their niceness. You try to talk and then they try and
when you finally get it out by signs and words from Spanish and French, as I do mine, they thank you, tip
their hats and go away smiling. Hope I'll have lots of mail when I get to Rome. Last night the cable office
was shut up. Today and by tomorrow the 15th you'll almost have heard from the Azores.
Go to Letter 47
Back to Messages From A Hidden Past